WEB monitoring services that help investors track online mentions of companies they follow have become an emerging area of innovation as easy-to-use publishing technologies have brought a flood of influential experts to the Internet.
Some of the companies offering “deep web” mining services to investors include FirstRain, SkyGrid and EventVestor, while a much larger group of services are targeting corporate marketing and PR departments that want to monitor what people are saying about their products or services.
Now Alacra, Inc., a well-known provider of online business information solutions, has launched a new service called Alacra Pulse. It analyzes a relatively narrow list of 2,500 RSS feeds of mainstream newspaper, magazine, trade publication sites and blogs to find, filter and package web-based content for investors.
Decline of “Wall Street” leads to rise of “RSS Street”
This move by a player in the financial and business information business further reinforces the importance of the web and alternative media such as blogs as important sources of investment information. Investor relations departments should pay attention because they cannot continue to dismiss blogs and the web as unimportant.
Fred Wilson, a VC and principal of Union Square Ventures, is a director of Alacra. In his own blog post about the launch, he writes:
“Wall Street research has been in a long and steady decline for years. Between the obvious loss of objectivity brought on by huge investment banking fees being paid to “buy coverage” and regulations like FD which made it almost impossible to get any information out of companies, Wall Street research has lost a lot of its mojo in the past decade.
But that does not mean that there aren’t good analysts doing good work. Many of them are not at the large banks and brokerage firms anymore and some of them are even blogging for a living.”
Alacra Pulse differs from other services because it does not aim to monitor the entire web. The feeds it indexes have been hand-picked. And rather than look for mentions of company names and then trying to extract meaning, the service looks for company mentions only in four contexts:
- Analyst comments (Street Pulse), launched today;
- M&A mentions (Deal Pulse);
- Distressed companies and restructurings (Weak Pulse); and,
- Mentions of law firms (Legal Pulse).
I thought Alacra’s definition of an “analyst” was interesting: “An analyst can be a sell-side research analyst, a rating agency analyst, an industry analyst, or a blogger with the credentials, experience and expertise that makes him or her, in Alacra’s view an opinion leader.”
Actually, in time the labels “blogger” and “analyst” will probably blur. More analysts will begin blogging and more bloggers will realize their expertise in a niche makes them analysts.
Alacra Pulse has an advertising-supported free version and a paid premium service that provides additional functionality, such as the ability to track a portfolio of companies.